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Altus II aircraft flying over southern California desert The remotely-piloted Altus II aircraft flying over the California desert.

Photo Number: EC98-44684-1
Photo Date: 29 Jun 1998

Formats: 515x480 JPEG Image (105 KBytes)
1099x1024 JPEG Image (454 KBytes)
3000x2793 JPEG Image (4,013 KBytes)

The San Gabriel range is visible as the remotely piloted Altus II flies over Southern California’s high desert.

The Altus II was flown as a performance and propulsion testbed for future high-altitude science platform aircraft under NASA’s Environmental Research Aircraft and Sensor Technology (ERAST) program at the Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif. The rear-engined Altus II and its sister ship, the Altus I, were built by General Atomics/Aeronautical Systems, Inc., of San Diego, Calif. They are designed for high-altitude, long-duration scientific sampling missions, and are powered by turbocharged piston engines. The Altus I, built for the Naval Postgraduate School, reached over 43,500 feet with a single-stage turbocharger feeding its four-cylinder Rotax engine in 1997, while the Altus II, incorporating a two-stage turbocharger built by Thermo-Mechanical Systems, reached and sustained an altitude of 55,000 feet for four hours in 1999. A pilot in a control station on the ground flies the craft by radio signals, using visual cues from a video camera in the nose of the Altus and information from the craft's air data system.

NASA Photo by: General Atomics

Keywords: Altus II; ERAST; Environmental Research Aircraft and Sensor Technology; General Atomics; turbocharger; two-stage; Thermo-Mechanical Systems

Last Modified: February 6, 2002
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